For a country with a population of less than ten million, Sweden packs a heavy punch when it comes to loud guitars. Nurtured in the same fertile 70ís rock-rich soil that gave us Witchcraft and Graveyard comes Horisont (Swedish for horizon, if you hadnít already guessed). They debuted in 2010 with TvŚ Sidor Av Horisonten - or Two sides of (the) horizon for non-Swedish speakers, an album that impressed Rise Above Records so much that they simply had to add them to their roster. Rise Above main man Lee Dorrian invited them over to support Pentagram at their debut London show where Horisontís rousing soul-drenched, powerhouse performance floored the sell-out crowd, leaving a palpable sense of anticipation for what must surely be one of the highlights of 2012.
Second Assault hails back to the point in the early 70s when Heavy Metal was just starting to be defined. This was a time when a Uli Jon Roth-led Scorpions and a fledgling Judas Priest were where fusing the colossal riffs of Black Sabbath, Zeppelin and Grand Funk to the soulful virtuosity of Hendrix, Deep Purple and Wishbone Ash. Horisont can be found proudly jamming at the point where flares and cheesecloth shirts gave way to denim and leather.
A band is nothing without a killer rhythm section; in drummer Pontus they have a true disciple of the holy trinity - Bonham, Ward and Paice; partnered by 4-string monster Magnus who locks in like a veteran soul man. The twin lead attack of Kristofer and Charles lacks only surnames to be worthy of mention in the august company of Gorham/Robertson, Schenker/Roth or Turner/Powell. By turns both tastefully melodic and proudly bombastic, they play like masters yet are never self-indulgent or boring. In keeping with such a stellar band, frontman Axel delivers the sort of impassioned performance that would make his forbearers proud; veering from laidback and soulful to banshee wail, but always from the heart. But musical skills mean nothing without songs. Fear not, these are ten of the finest you could wish for. Irresistible grooves and hooks so catchy youíll need innoculation just to be in the same town with them.
Opening with the driving Purple-esque grooves of Time Warrior then onto the mystical eastern melodies of Road To Cairo, Crusaders Of Deathís laid back melodies and bluesy sound bring to mind Wishbone Ash at their very best. Thereís the rock Ďní roll soul of On The Run, the Hendrixy fuzz of the title track, and nods to Fleetwod Mac on Watch Them Die and Things Iíve Seen. Topped off with the Thin Lizzy raunch of closers Hard Bargain and Thunderfight, Second Assault crystallises all that was magical and exciting about heavy rock and early metal between 1969 and 1976.
Utterly infectious, soulful and driving heavy rock for fans of the golden age, this is an album worthy of sitting alongside Taken By Force, Argus and Live & Dangerous.
File under Damn, This Rocks!